MacNeil Park overhaul needs to fix sinkholes

MacNeil Park overhaul needs to fix sinkholes
Photo by Nykeema Williams
By Joe Anuta

The coastal areas of College Point are about to get a face-lift, but the city still plans to perform construction in the isolated neighborhood and then give the accompanying amenities to Douglaston.

In late spring, the city Parks Department is set to begin making improvements to the interior pathways of MacNeil Park and has nearly finished reconstructing the comfort station and improving site drainage, according to a department spokesman.

The projects are part of more than $1.2 million that the department is using to spruce up the greenspace, Parks said.

But the money, allocated by elected officials, is still not enough to fix the sinkholes that plague the coastal walkway.

Borough President Helen Marshall and City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) allocated $425,000 to fix the interior pathways, and Marshall designated a further $800,000 to reconstruct the comfort station and improve drainage.

But to fix the sinkholes, the department would also have to fix related seawall problems, which it does not have the cash to do, a spokesman said.

Parks is currently seeking funding for such a project, which James Cervino, a marine and earth scientist who lives in the neighborhood, testified about at a recent budget hearing.

Cervino wants the seawall project to be included in Marshall’s budget for the coming fiscal year. Large rocks called riprap need to be restacked in front of the seawall in a neater fashion to prevent water from eroding the soil underneath the pathways and creating the sinkholes, Cervino said.

The city Department of Environmental Protection is also working to make College Point a little greener, but critics charge that the department should be doing more.

DEP now is creating wetlands at the end of Powell’s Cove Park, and when the project is complete, the area will have less invasive plant species, restored landscaping in the park and more than 3,500 trees and shrubs.

But the department is also putting resources into a restoration in Douglaston that community leaders think should stay in College Point.

DEP plans to do sewer work in College Point as part of an overall plan to clean up Flushing Bay. To offset the inconvenience of construction, DEP offered to put more resources into a wetland restoration, but decided to make the improvements in Udall’s Cove.

In February, Cervino, also a member and environmental adviser to Community Board 7, had previously blasted the department for giving the amenities outside of College Point, even though the neighborhood will bear the burden of construction.

A spokesman for DEP confirmed that the department’s plans have not changed.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4566.